In the reader’s mind

In my last blog, I talked about using imagery, following the advice of Mary Cole in her book Writing Irresistible Kidlit. Mary suggests carefully ignoring clichés and searching for new ways of saying something.

Can we, as story-tellers and writers, create new ways of helping our readers to get totally involved in whichever scene we’re writing?


More advice came this week from Sophie Hannah, who is running a very interesting course called Dream Author. (Check it out at It starts officially in September, but there is a lot going on already.)

Sophie’s advice is all about making readers care, not by telling them exactly what’s going on, as for example in the following fictitious example.

A masked man appeared in the doorway of the bank and pointed a gun. Mrs Bone and little Georgie were terrified. As for Monica at the desk, she had never been so frightened in her life.

My reader’s not part of that scene, is he? He’s detached, and probably doesn’t care a farthing about any of them.

We want readers to feel something for themselves, and Sophie Hannah tells us that they will do this if we ‘allow them to encounter a situation/character in a piece of writing first-hand and have their own direct, emotional response to that person/situation.’

Let’s go back to Mrs Bone and Georgie. What did they do when the masked man rushed into the bank? Did Mrs Bone’s mouth go dry? Or drop open perhaps? Did she grab little Georgie and thrust the child behind her. Did Georgie gasp? Or scream? And what about Monica at the desk? How did her fear physically manifest itself in her face? Her body?

July was my personal Similes and Metaphors month. August is more ‘Come on in, Readers, and feel the heat/cold/rain/terror/etc.’.